Examiner Enterprise

Historic Locomotive No. 940 "Homecoming Parade" Tomorrow

By Special to the E-E
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The public is invited to welcome steam locomotive AT&SF No. 940 back to the Bartlesville depot tomorrow (Dec. 9), beginning with a "homecoming parade" starting at 9 a.m. The 47-foot-long locomotive will depart from a staging area behind Memorial Stadium and travel the four-block route in about 45 minutes to an hour.

The whistle and bell of No. 940 will be sounded to mark the beginning of the move along Johnstone Ave and Hensley Blvd. Silent for the past 53 years, the whistle and bell were recently restored to operating condition by volunteers and Service and Manufacturing of Bartlesville, which is coordinating the unusual move.

No. 940, which has been located in Johnstone park since 1956, was placed on an 8-axel, 64-tire lowboy trailer Tuesday morning. The steamer's tender was lifted on to a smaller trailer. The massive locomotive alone weighed in at 275,000 pounds based on scales in the crane cabs. Steam locomotive moves such as this occur only a few times each decade in the United States.

The offloading process at the depot is expected to take about two hours, beginning at about 10 a.m. The tender will be moved from the staging area at about 1 p.m. and travel the route to the depot in about 45 minutes. Streets along the route will be blocked off throughout the move.

The locomotive will be lowered unto a recently completed display track just north of the depot. The display track is 200 feet long, while the locomotive and tender measure roughly 80 feet together. The unused track will allow for the addition of several train cars at a later date.

A No. 940 Homecoming and Depot Birthday is being planned for 4:30-5:30 p.m., Dec. 17. The Bartlesville depot, now home of the Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, will be 100 years old on that date. Details about this free public event will be released soon.

Although owned by the city of Bartlesville, the locomotive's return to the depot, along with the new display track and planned site enhancements, were financed entirely by private donations, with the Lyon Foundation and the Bartlesville (Monday Noon) Rotary Club taking lead roles. Planning for the move has been under way for nearly two years.

Locomotive No. 940 is 106 years old, built by the Baldwin locomotive works for the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. The Santa Fe retired the steamer in 1954 and, through the efforts of the Bartlesville Rotary Club, it was moved to Bartlesville for display.

The locomotive is the sole survivor of 342 steam engines like it built for the Santa Fe, and is only one of 50 locomotives of all types saved by the railroad when it switched to diesel-powered locomotives.

Information also available from the Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. 918-336-8708